There should an obligation on landlords to do the best they can for their tenants and the community in which the tenants live – at least their should be and at the very least there should be a moral obligation. I may be optimistic here though – the Tories and their Liberal Democrat partners in crime are doing their very best to change us into as selfish and self centred a society as mad Maggie did many years ago.
I've been speaking to people throughout the West Berkshire downlands about rental properties and the big divide between those properties provided by the housing association and private landlords. In my quick poll of people it seem that housing association has a much higher quality of rental properties – certainly in terms of environmental and tenant welfare issues. I've not yet spoken to a tenant in a housing association house that thinks their buildings are in need of an environmental upgrade. I know solar hot water feature highly in my wish list, but this would only create a bigger gap between the housing associations and private landlords.
The worst off seem to be those that cannot get a housing association house. The quality of housing stock from private landlords does seem to be terrible.
For example, whilst most now have double glazing, it's only because the old single glazing was so beyond repair it just had to be repaired to keep the property occupied. I've yet to find any private tenant that thinks their private landlord has or even would consider upgrading insulation levels to meet the minimum modern standards.
Another common example discussed is that none of these private landlords are concerned about water quality in the home, with many 60's/70's/80's properties taking drinking water still from the water tank in the loft (and as I understand this can be a great source of nasty bacteria).
So what am I suggesting? I think that the standards of the housing association should be applied to all private rental properties. There should be parity in their quality. I also think that all new and tenanted homes should be provided with a solar hot water system. Simple things like this would improve the quality of life for many of the people in our community and ensure that we continue to strive to have the best quality of life with the least impact on our environment.
For reference, you can find the Sovereign Housing strategy here.